Spring is still a little too far away and it’s tempting to stay curled up by the fire, but put on those thermals and you’ll find there are lots of useful things you can do in your garden and the exercise will soon warm you up!
Birds will be getting ready for spring, so keep them well fed and watered. The ground can be hard and food scarce, so you will be rewarded with many new feathered friends if you keep a well stocked bird feeder. Birds especially appreciate fat rich foods such as nuts and fat balls: our video guide should give you some more inspiration. You could even have a go at making your own bird food: find out how in our video here. Make sure you check your bird bath or water dish if it has been very cold, replace the water regularly and pop a rubber ball in; the bobbing around will help prevent it from freezing over.
February is also a good time to put up nest boxes for birds, if you haven’t already. Many species like to spend some time checking out potential homes just like we do, so getting them up early gives them more chance of being used. Make sure you get the compass out before putting up your bird boxes: face them west and the bird houses will get terribly drafty from the westerly winds, face them south and they will become mini saunas. Generally north-east or south-east is recommended. Take a look at our bird box video if you’d like to have a go at making your own! If you already have bird boxes in place, now is a good time to check them over and clear them out, ready for this year’s residents.
If you spot a hedgehog out in this weather it will be hungry, so provide some water and meaty dog food to help get them through these cold winter months. If you find a hedgehog out during the day, it means it is probably ill or injured. Contact a local hedgehog rescue centre immediately and ask their advice on what to do next. Get more advice on helping hedgehogs here.
You should start seeing the odd burst of colour as snowdrops, violets and crocuses start flowering. If we get some mild weather this month, it’s a good time to plant trees, hedges and shrubs before they continue their growth in the spring. If you need to trim back hedges, try and complete it by the end of the month as some birds such as blackbirds and robins may be nesting next month. If you’re cutting back herbaceous growths, go carefully to avoid exposing valuable invertebrates such as ladybirds and lacewings to the cold.
It’s also a good time to dig up, divide and replant perennials to get more flowers at no extra cost. Make plans on what to plant in the garden this year, and have a look at our Plants and Flowers section for inspiration. If you want to start a wildflower meadow, then now is a good time to start preparing the ground. For a full rundown of how to go about it, read our article or watch our video here.
You can have a good general clear out around your wildlife garden, and throw the weeds and grass cuttings onto your compost heap along with your vegetable trimmings to make some nutritious and free food for your plants. But remember that you don’t need to be too tidy – all kind of creatures from mammals to invertebrates will use untidy areas to rest, shelter and hide.
Now get back inside and stick that kettle on.